One of the major mantras of the modern digital enterprise is that developers must build mobile apps with the end user in mind; otherwise employees simply won’t use them. Well, what would happen if end users themselves were able to build their own mobile apps?
We’ll find out soon enough, thanks to Microsoft’s PowerApps, a new enterprise service designed to streamline the development and distribution of mobile applications. Redmond announced the service on Nov. 30, zeroing right in on the top enterprise mobile development pain point:
“PowerApps will dramatically accelerate how business apps are built, reducing time to solution from weeks or months to minutes and empowering a new category of app creators.”
While I’m not sure how eagerly IT professionals will embrace the notion of their networks being flooded with apps built by any random user, enterprise decision makers who view rapid mobile apps deployment as a key to increasing employee productivity — and who also are well aware that mobile developers are in short supply — may be willing to give PowerApps a shot.
Users can create mobile apps from a template, from a set of data, and from scratch. By creating a “logic flow,” users can program the app to take action in response to an event. Microsoft explains: “For example, create a logic flow that notifies you by mail as soon as someone sends a tweet that contains a keyword you specify. In this example, sending a tweet is the event, and sending mail is the action.”
PowerApps essentially is the mobile apps equivalent of platforms such as WordPress that allow anyone to launch a website or blog. It does sound like a compelling idea. And it does include features and functionality for developers and IT professionals, including Azure App Service (which accelerates delivery of native web and mobile apps to employees) and the ability to impose data security and privacy controls. That latter benefit should be a selling point for reluctant IT pros.
If you want to just fool around with PowerApps, there’s a free version that includes two connections to SaaS data sources per user. There’s also a Standard version (free during preview and with unlimited SaaS connections) and a paid Enterprise version with all of the features for users and IT mentioned above.
Is your enterprise ready to turn over mobile apps development to employees?